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It’s OK if there’s no mania behind Jimmer

Mar 24, 2012, 1:47 PM EDT

Jimmer Fredette , Kurt Thomas, Nolan Smith AP

“The first time he didn’t play [on Feb. 2 against Portland], people were calling the paper and pitching their theories,” said Jason Jones, the Kings’ beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. “People don’t want to believe that he might not be ready to play. They want to believe Keith has it in for him.”

The salty swell of support peaked on Feb. 21, when Fredette’s brother and roommate, T.J., saw Jimmer glued to the bench for 48 minutes in a game at Miami and tweeted, “Can we please get rid of this interim coach who should be an assistant at best and bring in a real head coach.” Jimmer quickly apologized on behalf of his brother, who subsequently deleted the tweet and also issued an apology. Smart had a candid moment of his own on March 8, defending his use of Fredette while saying, “If everybody in the world would just leave me alone and let me develop this kid, he’s going to be OK.”

via Jimmer Fredette being brough along slowly by Sacramento Kings – Sam Amick – SI.com.

And that last part is kind of relevant. “OK.”

Now, I’m sure if you were to press Keith Smart he’d talk about Jimmer Fredette being “pretty good” or “great” eventually. But right now? Right now the goal is just OK. And for some reason, people have struggled to accept this. There’s a lingering sense that the player Fredette was in college must be in there, that he has to be waiting to spring forth with magical unicorn bombs from 50 feet. There’s just no way that the player the JimmerManiacs saw tearing it up in the NCAA tournament last year at BYU isn’t the same. Because it’s just basketball, right?

Well, no, not really.

Here’s the thing, the article above is entirely written from the perspective of giving Jimmer time to evolve and improve. And it’s a worthwhile idea. I”m not here to bury a rookie. Guys develop, improve, and regress at very different intervals in the NBA and for the most part, it’s very difficult to predict. Fredette could have a monster sophomore year, and then disappear. There are trends, to be sure. There are probabilities. But to say that players will never change, never improve, that they are who they are is to ignore a world of players like Steve Nash, Chauncey Billups, and others who progressed not from the start but who began their careers as one thing and then dramatically shifted a few years in. Fredette can have that kind of career. He’s a good enough… uh… shooter or player, or something to be able to convert those skills.

However, there’s something we’re going to need to get past. Fredette is not stuck on the bench. He’s not being held back. He’s just not very good right now. And Thomas has been excellent. He’s earned is playing time. And all the things we were concerned about with Fredette? They’ve turned out to be true.

Turns out that in the flow of an NBA game, jacking up 45 footers is not a sustainable offensive strategy. It turns out that creating your own shot against players who are twice as fast, long, athletic, and strong as you are is a bit of a trick. And most of all, it turns out that all the concerns about Fredette’s defense weren’t mythical. The kid can’t stick. He should not be on the floor right now and Keith Smart isn’t responsible for making sure Jimmer works out. He’s supposed to make the garbage salad of the Kings turn into a pizza with DMC pepperoni and Thornton sauce. (In this scenario Tyreke Evans is pineapple. The people that like it love it and always want it on, the people that don’t think it’s weird it’s on the pizza.)

Smart isn’t the GM who elected to draft a player who clearly didn’t fit with their roster, nor had the pedigree to compete at the NBA level at the position he was drafted at. Smart wasn’t the coach to weigh in on that decision. This is Smart being stuck with management’s mistake. Again, it doesn’t meant that Fredette can’t work out and be amazing and validate Geoff Petrie and everything. But for right now, it’s not working out, and Smart’s not beholden to making that work. He’s got the Kings playing better with Thomas, with Thornton, most importantly with DMC, you know the players with actual ability at this level.

And this isn’t actually unexpected. Neil Paine at Basketball Prospectus wrote about college All-Americans and the NBA. The trend over the past thirty years? It’s getting harder and harder for amateur stars to convert to pro icons.

The more common outcome for an All-American in today’s game is to be an ordinary starter or even a non-starting rotation regular (33% have met this fate so far). There’s still plenty of time for regulars like Evan Turner and Greivis Vasquez to become starters, and for starters like John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins to become All-Stars (in fact, Cousins arguably should have been one this season). But those are the exceptions–in reality, the book is likely already written on most of the post-age-limit prospects produced at college basketball’s highest level, and it’s not filled with anywhere near as many stars as in days gone by, despite the rule forcing elite high school talent to spend a year on campus.

via Basketball Prospectus | Disappearing Act.

There’s hope for Fredette, though.

J.J. Redick was a similar player in college, a three-point sharpshooter, the best in Duke’s history. When he came to the Magic, he got no playing time. None. And he was frustrated, essentially, for two seasons. Stan Van Gundy made it abundantly clear to Redick. Learn how to play defense at this level, you can play. He knew Redick could shoot, he needed him to defend. So Redick hit the weight room, built up his frame, kept his shooter’s touch, and wound up being a huge part of the Magic’s run to he Finals in 2009. Had Orlando not matched his offer from Chicago two years ago, he’d be a better version of Kyle Korver. That’s what Fredette needs to do. Accept it’s going to be rough, accept that he’s not ready, keep bucking to get there and do what is necessary.

In the meantime? You can hope Fredette will work out. You can even have faith that he’ll become the player we all want him to be, the same one who went gonzo in the tournament. But you can’t deny the reality that he’s not ready to play and is a detriment to his team when he’s on the floor right now. It’s not just about patience. It’s about reality and how we deal with it.

  1. bowens3181 - Mar 24, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    “I’m not here to bury a rookie.”

    /spends entire rest of article burying a rookie

    Good job!

  2. bearsstillsuck - Mar 24, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    Tebow was apparently pretty good in college too. Sometimes it just doesn’t translate.

    • rodgersmvp - Mar 24, 2012 at 3:11 PM

      Tebow is arguably the best college QB to ever play the game, and he just won a playoff game. It seems like a bad analogy to compare a guy who can’t get off the bench to a QB who beat the #1 ranked defense in the playoffs.

      • shortsallyear - Mar 26, 2012 at 9:41 AM

        Tebow is arguably the best college QB to ever play the game? Really did you just start watching college football. Tim Tebow is a great guy but he would not rank in the top 20 let alone the best. I’m olny talking College football but here are just some players I think were much better. Ty Detmer, Bob Griese, Vinny Testaverde, Archie Manning, Timmy Chang, Ben Roethlisberger, Sammy Baugh, Joe Montana, Joe Theismann, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Kellen Moore, Troy Aikman, John Elway, Sam Bradford, Danny Wuerffel, Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Gino Torretta, Joe Namath, Tommie Frazier, Charlie Ward, Vince Young, and Steve Young and this is just a list I think of while typing I’m sure I’m missing some other really good qb. Navys QB Roger Stawback just remember him he could throw a nice pass.
        Finally I thing the best QB in college ever was Jim McMahon no one ever understood what a defence was going to do better then him. Now if you ask me who is the nice QB i might say Tebow. I think Tim was a very good player. And a very good QB but he was not one of the very best.

      • qdog112 - Mar 26, 2012 at 10:58 PM

        Man, Tebow is straight garbage and you know it.

    • drewnusser - Mar 25, 2012 at 1:04 AM

      You mean the guy who was the absolute only reason the Broncos weren’t a 3-13/4-12 team last year? He’s not a great passer, but guess what, he won games with easily the worst supporting cast in the NFL last year. Oh, and for Jimmer, he was averaging 16.5 points and shooting over 60% from 3pt while he was starting. Those were the first 4 starts of his cTalk about not being able to hack it! What a dumb comment.

      • drewnusser - Mar 25, 2012 at 1:04 AM

        *of his career*

      • shortsallyear - Mar 26, 2012 at 9:43 AM

        Broncos had a great Defence. That is the main reason that weren’t 3-13 or 4-12

      • drewnusser - Mar 26, 2012 at 10:49 PM

        @shortsallyear – Yeah, that defense looked great when they started out 1-4 and looked like the worst team in the league before Tebow took over. Yeah, they were talented, but it was Tebow’s play that inspired the defense to play how they did for the rest of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I know that his skills aren’t on par with most quarterbacks in the league, but what he did worked. Orton, who isn’t a bad QB, had them looking like the Colts, and Tebow led them out of the rut and into a playoff run, and even beat the Steelers, who were a MUCH more talented team.

  3. chiadam - Mar 24, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    Hmmm…well, Jimmer also believes in God but does he pose? Tebow likes to make sure a camera can capture the majesty of his kneeling down and making serious-face. We want religing to be crammed down our throats as harshly as possible. Oh, and he should probably get into a bigger market. That will make his beliefs more marketable from a demographic standpoint. And he should adopt a phony “aww shucks, sir!” attitude.

  4. bluoctbr2006 - Mar 24, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    Jimmer vs. Utah-8 minutes, 6pts, 4rbs, 1ast, 1 block, and 1 turnover. Your right, very detrimental to the team.

  5. charlutes - Mar 24, 2012 at 6:09 PM

    Another thesis on nothing by M.M.

  6. progress2011 - Mar 24, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    Charlutes – Since most of sports writing can be considered nothing, to many people not interested in sports, I thought this was a very well written “thesis”, on a relevant topic/ player.

    I found it to be very direct and fact driven. So much so, due to some of the razor sharp descriptions, I became a little uncomfortable but also thrilled that a writer would be so direct. In our current media, where every writer, writes with a soft keyboard, for fear of being ridiculed for telling it strait. The fact is, Jimmer should spend about two years in the D league, to develop his speed, ball handling, foot work to defend and get in the gym to become stronger.

    So, maybe you are one of those posters, that post because you desire Mr. Moores job as a writer. So, your only reason for posting is to grade his article because your post definitely has nothing to do with or contribute to “sports”.
    If so….get lost !

  7. scoregasmic - Mar 24, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    This article is exactly what America needs sometimes, no one should be surprised jimmer isn’t ready

    • drewnusser - Mar 25, 2012 at 1:11 AM

      In his first 4 starts he was averaging 16.5 points and over 60% from down town. That was in about 30 minutes. Those are much better numbers than Isaiah has put up since he’s been starting, and he’s been “excellent.” Then he didn’t get off the bench for 2 games. Then when he got another chance, he brought his team back from an embarrassing defeat against the T-Wolves with 13 points in the 4th, only to sit out the last 2 minutes and watch his replacement brick the game-winning 3. Oh, and then he gets to sit out another whole game. You want to know the real reason Jimmer’s not playing? It’s because he doesn’t LOOK athletic. He just needs to spend a little more time in the tanning bed.

      America doesn’t need to be fed this BS – it doesn’t taste very good anyway.

      • progress2011 - Mar 25, 2012 at 6:00 PM

        drewnusser….If you have ever watched or better yet played bball, you would know, there are two ends of the court.

        That’s cute that jimmer can score, but if he is constantly getting BLOWN-By on the other end of the court. Can’t comprehend basic NBA defense rotation and is always out of position, then the points he scores are irrelevant because he is giving up those 16.5 points and more on the other end.

        Maybe he can play in the European league, where its all run and shoot. No body plays defense, its all just shooting the ball. Start a campaign to send your boy to Europe, then you can watch him play.

        However here in “America”, where the NBA is king, players are expected to do it all, at a high level.

        I can’t believe you tried to pull the reverse-racism card by referencing is lack of tanned skin !!! ahahaha …..absolutely hilarious !!!

      • drewnusser - Mar 26, 2012 at 6:11 PM

        It’s not reverse racism – it would be regular racism. Reverse racism is when people of a different race get preferencial treatment so that the other party doesn’t appear racist in the least. Either way, yeah, blatant racism is probably not what’s happening here, instead it’s probably just that Smart is a bad judge of talent. Isaiah knows defense, but can’t guard anyone over 6’0 – and does anyone say anything about it when he gets posted up 3-4 times a game and is easily scored on? Of course not. Would you rather put someone out there who can still learn to play defense, or someone who is physically incapable? I just hope that Smart can convince the Kings to release Jimmer like the Warriors did Lin so everyone can praise Smart for doing such a good job preparing him for the NBA. Right…

  8. losangelasbasketball - Mar 24, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    Jimmer was devasting in college… killed my Aztecs in march last year….

  9. sweetnlow44 - Mar 24, 2012 at 10:08 PM

    Jimmer’s brother is right. Jimmer can play. Bad luck that he got drafted on a team with 4 other legitimate point guards. Give him some consistent minutes and he’ll be a stud. Can’t play a guy 4 minutes here, 8 minutes there, 0 minutes sometimes and expect great if any production out of him. Bad situation for a rookie to be in.

  10. drewnusser - Mar 25, 2012 at 1:31 AM

    This article sucks. Do research, watch games, look at stats – don’t just pat yourself on the back saying “Man, I’m sooo smart for predicting he wouldn’t be good enough for the NBA.” When he had a chance, he proved that he could be an awesome scorer in the NBA, averaging 16.5 points on 45% from the field and over 60% from 3pt. Yeah, his team was losing, but THEY’RE THE KINGS! Also, this so-called “excellent” production from Thomas isn’t even as good as the “OK” production Jimmer was giving the team. His numbers are worse than Jimmer’s were, and the team is still losing most of their games, but Thomas has Thornton to pass it to.

    The Kings gave Jimmer a shot, and he proved himself, so they benched him. Even now, when he has a great quarter, he’s benched for the rest of the game. If that quarter happens to be the 4th, then he’s benched for the next game. On the other hand, you have Isaiah who can go 3-14 with 4 TOs and only 2 assists in 35 minutes, and he has nothing to worry about when it comes to playing time. Apparently they just need to show this white boy his place in the NBA.

    One thing that I can say that Smart is good at is hiding next year’s superstars. Linsanity happened in New York this year, and I’m hoping that Jimmer gets traded so Jimmermania has a chance to happen next year – but it definitely won’t happen in Sacramento.

    • progress2011 - Mar 25, 2012 at 6:16 PM

      drewnusser….You can’t compare jimmer to lin just because (as you stated) they need to spend more time in the tanning bed.

      Lin comprehends defensive rotation and has the foot speed to get to where he is supposed to be on the defensive end of the court.

      It’s not about race, as you are attempting to make it. It’s because the guy must improve his bball I.Q. on defense and work very hard on improving his foot speed because he is a liability on the other end of the court.

      The reason he is benched is because he is directly responsible for giving up as many points as he makes, by constantly being out of position or getting BLOWN-BY !

      This is 2012…people like you make America look very bad, when it comes to progressive relationship building, with your comments that have nothing to do with bball.

      Please be quite ! People from other nations do actually read this stuff. They must say ….WOW, after reading a post like yours.

      • sloppyj30 - Mar 26, 2012 at 1:46 PM

        drewnusser’s comment may had too fine a point on it, but we all know there is something to it. Generally speaking, you will rarely hear black players (guards, in particular) referred to as heady or gritty, and likewise you don’t hear anything about white players’ explosiveness or speed. Apparently all white players are slow overachieving “Little Engine That Could” types and all black players are genetic freaks who overcome their lack of hustle and hoops IQ with pure athleticism. It’s the same mentality that kept the QB position (not to mention coaching positions in all sports) in white hands for decades. It’s not overt racism; it’s people watching games and making faulty cause/effect assumptions. Why else would you hear Jimmer constantly compared to only other white players? Nash, Redick, Adam Morrison . . those are the only names I ever hear when people want an easy comparison.

        We speak in universal racial code when talking about athletes. I’ve read for a couple of years now about Jimmer’s lack of speed (it’s average), leaping ability (also average), and strength (believe it or not, firmly above average). His measurables don’t completely bear it out. Not that he’s an elite athlete, but if he were black and played exactly the same game, you wouldn’t hear nearly as much chatter about his supposed lack of athleticism. His struggles this year have more to do with positioning and bad habits (reinforced by a non-existent off-season with his new team) than being slow and weak. A seemingly random rotation by his coach isn’t helping matters.

        In Jimmer’s case, I don’t buy for a second that race is factoring into the equation. The Kings, from the Malouf’s on down to the coaches, have every reason to want James Fredette to be a legit player. However, they drafted him for the wrong reasons and now are forced to choose between two unpalatable options: (1) Bow to less-knowledgable fans’ shrieks and throw him out there and hope he isn’t buried completely, or (2) do what they’re doing and have faith that he’ll work in the quickly-approaching off season to maximize his potential, whatever that may be. The flow and strategy of the game he played at BYU bears little resemblance to the NBA game, and the only way he’s going to adjust is through a ton of coaching and practice.

        As a huge Jimmer fan and BYU alum, I’m glad they’ve chosen path #2. It was a nice fantasy to expect him to pop right away, but how often does that happen with rookies? There is no shame whatsoever in (1) taking 2-3 years to figure out what kind of player you’re going to be in the NBA or (2) ending up being a competent rotation guy, as opposed to a star.

        I’d be thrilled if Jimmer ends up playing a dozen years and averaging, say, 12 and 5. Maybe he’ll top that, maybe he’ll completely disappear, but it’s almost like people expect him to be either a huge star or a total bust. 80% of the players in the league (a number I pulled out of the air just now) are varying degrees of competent. Jimmer absolutely has translatable skills that should keep him at least in that group. Every indication is that he’s coachable enough and industrious enough to hit his upside, whatever that is.

      • drewnusser - Mar 26, 2012 at 6:04 PM

        So why didn’t Lin get to play for him? Plus, have you not been watching Isaiah play? I’ve seen him get posted up and just as easily scored on multiple times per game. How is he not a liability? Plus, Isaiah was pretty much invisible that last game against the Warriors until he hit one tough shot in the 3rd, and then the commentators had nothing but praises to sing about him. Oh, and then he tried to get fancy and dribbled the ball straight out of bounds, and guess what – not a peep about it. You think people wouldn’t have been all over Jimmer for playing that way? It might not be about race – it might just be that he’s not the best judge of talent, but there is definitely a double standard. Just wait until they release him and someone else picks him up next year and Jimmermania happens. The sick thing is that people will still give Smart a lot of credit for “preparing” him to play at this level, just like Lin.

      • drewnusser - Mar 26, 2012 at 11:12 PM

        Right, sloppyj, sorry – I was too blunt and it didn’t really get my opinion across well. I don’t think it’s a “I ain’t playin that white kid” type of deal, I just think it’s an unfair stereotype that’s preventing him from getting playing time rather than his performance. It’s always the knock on the white guys that they aren’t athletic enough, and sometimes it’s true, but sometimes it’s not. Jimmer had doubters after scoring almost 30ppg in college, and he had doubters after he posted some of the fastest times in the pre-draft workouts, and he had doubters when he was scoring in bunches when he got the opportunity in the league. Those things don’t happen if you’re too slow to play in the league. Unfortunately those unwarranted doubts from the coach have overpowered Jimmer’s performance on the court.

        The Kings were losing those games that he was starting, but keep in mind – THEY’RE THE KINGS. Now they got their superstar back (Thornton) they’ve had much better play from Evans and Cousins, and now they have this “rookie sensation” in Thomas. The only problem is that they still aren’t winning games. I keep hearing that Smart is making good moves and having them playing better by making Jimmer ride the bench, but they’re still losing almost all of their games. Also, since being forced into the 12th man role, it doesn’t matter how well he performs, he can still expect a DNP about half the time, and about 6 minutes a game other times. Even if he plays great and leads his team on a huge comeback, he can bet on finding his way straight back to the bench. If that good performance is in the first half, he doesn’t play in the second, and if it’s in the 4th quarter, he can count on 2 more DNPs to reward him for the good work on the court.

        My biggest problem is that people were crying that he was a bust when he was doing really well, and now that Isaiah has posted numbers that aren’t even as good as his, and he gets posted up and easily scored on 4-5 times a game, he’s a rookie of the year candidate. Jimmer did nothing to deserve to be benched, and Isaiah did nothing to replace him. Isaiah can go 3-12 and have more TOs than assists, and still count on 35 minutes the next game, while Jimmer can go 5-6 for 15 points and 3 assists in 10 minutes, and he won’t get into the next game. You guys can doubt on the race thing all you want, but Jimmer’s getting hosed because he doesn’t look like a basketball player, not because he’s not playing well.

  11. kaceyc13 - Mar 27, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Someone really doesn’t know The Jimmer very well. He is used to the adversity and he will show over and over again that he will prevail. I understand journalists having to take sides and trying to dissect and diagnosis players and teams, but really to say Im not here to bury a rookie and then go off and first murder him and then leaving him on the side of the road, yah your right! You didnt bury him… What you should really talk about is how the Utah Jazz being one of the youngest teams in the league and with a young coach is dominating the NBA right now!! Oh yah and if you go a little further just imagine Jimmer on a team that runs an offense and that acutally plays basketball as players were taught growing up on a team that works together and not like a team that has no clue how to play as a team!!

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